Money Market Instruments

What is a Money Market?

The term ‘Money Market’, according to the Reserve Bank of India, is used to define a market where short-term financial assets are traded. These assets are a near substitute for money and they aid in the money exchange carried out in the primary and secondary market. So, essentially, the money market is an apparatus which facilitates the lending and borrowing of short-term funds, which are usually for a duration of under a year. Short maturity period and high liquidity are two characteristic features of the instruments which are traded in the money market. Institutions like commercial banks, non-banking finance corporations (NBFCs) and acceptance houses are the components which make up the money market.

The money market is a part of the larger financial market and consists of numerous smaller sub-markets like bill market, acceptance market, call money market, etc. Money market deals are not carried out in money / cash, but other instruments like trade bills, government papers, promissory notes, etc. Also, money market transactions cannot be done via brokers but have to be carried out via mediums like formal documentation, oral or written communication.

Money Market Instruments

Some Important Objectives Served By a Money Market

The money market serves several objectives in the overall economy. Listed below are some important objectives:

  • The money market doesn’t only help in the storage of short-term surplus funds but also helps in lowering short term deficits.
  • They help the central bank in regulating liquidity in the economy.
  • Money markets help short-term fund users to fulfill their needs at reasonable costs.
  • The money market helps in the development of the capital market, trade and industry.
  • To help design effective monetary policies.
  • To facilitate streamlined functioning of commercial banks.

What Are Money Market Instruments?

As the name suggests, Money Market Instruments are simply the instruments or tools which can help one operate in the money market. These instruments serve a dual purpose of not only allowing borrowers meet their short-term requirements but also provide easy liquidity to lenders. Some of the common money market instruments include Banker’s Acceptance, Treasury Bills, Repurchase Agreements, Certificate of Deposits and Commercial Papers.

Characteristics of Money Market Instruments

Money market instruments allow governments, financial organizations and businesses to finance their short-term cash requirements. Some of the notable characteristics of money market instruments are as follows.

  • Liquidity – Money market instruments are highly liquid because they are fixed-income securities which carry short maturity periods of a year or less.
  • Safety – Issuers of money market instruments have strong credit ratings, which automatically means that the money instruments issued by them will also be safe.
  • Discount Pricing – Another important characteristic feature of money market instruments is that they are issued at a discount on their face value.

Types Of Money Market Instruments

Treasury Bills (T-Bills)

Issued by the Central Government, Treasury Bills are known to be one of the safest money market instruments available. However, treasury bills carry zero risk. I.e. are zero risk instruments. Therefore, the returns one gets on them are not attractive. Treasury bills come with different maturity periods like 3-month, 6-month and 1 year and are circulated by primary and secondary markets. Treasury bills are issued by the Central government at a lesser price than their face value. The interest earned by the buyer will be the difference of the maturity value of the instrument and the buying price of the bill, which is decided with the help of bidding done via auctions. Currently, there are 3 types of treasury bills issued by the Government of India via auctions, which are 91-day, 182-day and 364-day treasury bills.

Certificate of Deposits (CDs)

A Certificate of Deposit or CD, functions as a deposit receipt for money which is deposited with a financial organization or bank. However, a Certificate of Deposit is different from a Fixed Deposit Receipt in two aspects. The first aspect of difference is that a CD is only issued for a larger sum of money. Secondly, a Certificate of Deposit is freely negotiable. First announced in 1989 by RBI, Certificate of Deposits have become a preferred investment choice for organizations in terms of short-term surplus investment as they carry low risk while providing interest rates which are higher than those provided by Treasury bills and term deposits. Certificate of Deposits are also relatively liquid, which is an added advantage, especially for issuing banks. Like treasury bills, CDs are also issued at a discounted price and their tenor ranges between a span of 7 days up to 1 year. However, banks issue Certificates of Deposits for durations ranging from 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. They can be issued to individuals (except minors), trusts, companies, corporations, associations, funds, non-resident Indians, etc.

Commercial Papers (CPs)

Commercial Papers are can be compared to an unsecured short-term promissory note which is issued by highly rated companies with the purpose of raising capital to meet requirements directly from the market. CPs usually feature a fixed maturity period which can range anywhere from 1 day up to 270 days. Highly popular in countries like Japan, UK, USA, Australia and many others, Commercial Papers promise higher returns as compared to treasury bills and are automatically not as secure in comparison. Commercial papers are actively traded in secondary market.

Repurchase Agreements (Repo)

Repurchase Agreements, also known as Reverse Repo or simply as Repo, loans of a short duration which are agreed upon by buyers and sellers for the purpose of selling and repurchasing. These transactions can only be carried out between RBI approved parties Repo / Reverse Repo transactions can be done only between the parties approved by RBI. Transactions are only permitted between securities approved by the RBI like treasury bills, central or state government securities, corporate bonds and PSU bonds.

Banker's Acceptance (BA)

Banker's Acceptance or BA is basically a document promising future payment which is guaranteed by a commercial bank. Similar to a treasury bill, Banker’s Acceptance is often used in money market funds and specifies the details of the repayment like the amount to be repaid, date of repayment and the details of the individual to which the repayment is due. Banker’s Acceptance features maturity periods ranging between 30 days up to 180 days.


Mutual Fund investments will be subject to market risks. Any mutual fund listed in the document does not guarantee fund performance or its underlying creditworthiness. Do read the mutual fund document thoroughly before investing. Specific investment needs and other factors have to be taken into account while designing a mutual fund portfolio.

GST rate of 18% applicable for all financial services effective July 1, 2017.

News About Money Market Instruments

  • Experts advise investors to increase investments in equities and SIPs gradually

    There was a mixed trend in Indian equities in 2018 due to oil prices, global trade wars, etc. The Nifty gained 3.2% and Sensex gained 5.9%. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks massively eroded with the Nifty Midcap plunging 16% and the Nifty Smallcap plunging 30%. The equity market may remain volatile ahead of the elections. There could be another reversal in interest rates which could influence infrastructure firms and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). Experts advise investors to focus on quality stocks, especially midcap and smallcap, which have a good risk-reward proposition. Gradual investments in systematic investment plans (SIPs) and equities is also advised. Buying high-quality largecaps when the markets are stressed is advised. Investments of 60% in largecaps, 40% in midcaps and small caps for a risk-neutral investor is preferred by the experts. For the risk-averse investor, an investment of 80-85% in largecap and 15% in midcaps is advised. Even if the first half of 2019 is expected to be volatile, the latter half is expected to improve with the sustained low oil prices, clearer political climate, and soft headline inflation. Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPIs) are expected to infuse more funds into equities and bonds in India in 2019.

    7 January 2019

  • Blue-chips outperformed midcaps with a record margin

    Blue-chip stocks posted their best-ever performance in the current year over other mid-cap participants. When the Sensex attained 5.6% for the year till 19 December 2018, the BSE mid-cap index slipped by 14.8%. This equals to a record gap of 20% in their performance in 2018. The market participants are expecting the Blue-chip index to continue outperforming against other midcaps since many smaller stocks are fighting multiple headwinds such as immobile earnings and increased valuations. Before this record achievement, the best outperformance of Sensex with respect to mid-cap index happened in the year 2006 when the Blue-chip index gained 50% while the mid-cap index attained only 34%. Usually, mid-cap stocks perform better than the blue-chip stocks during bull markets as investors having higher risk appetite tend to invest in assets with higher risk.

    31 December 2018

  • Stocks of Infosys, HDFC, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and NDTV in news

    Major IT firm Infosys has appointed Mr. Jayesh Sanghrajka to act as the interim CFO (Chief Financial Officer). The firm which is based out of Bangalore has revealed that the board has started the process to choose its next CFO to take the place of Mr. MD Ranganath. HDFC Bank, the largest mortgage lender in the country, is looking at raising up to $1 billion by selling its maiden dollar bond and the sale is expected to go live in January 2019. 1.27 crore of shares of Kotak Mahindra Bank was sold by ING Mauritius Investments. According to the data by NSE block deal data, the shares were sold at an average price of Rs.1,130 per share. 6.25 lakh shares were sold to TFL Pension Fund while 95.57 lakh shares were sold to the Government of Singapore. 25.63 lakh shares were bought by Aberdeen Asset Management Asia. Broadcasting firm, NDTV has sold its subsidiary, Special Occasions Ltd. to Wedding Junction Private Ltd. and hence, will no longer hold its ownership.

    16 November 2018

  • SEBI brings in major changes in mutual funds for cost-effectiveness

    The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently put a cap on the amount that fund houses can charge investors for handling their investments. The Total Expense Ratio (TER) that mutual fund schemes can now charge investors cannot exceed the limit of 2.25%. The SEBI has also outlawed mutual fund distributors from charging upfront distributor commissions which is a fee charged before an investor invests in a scheme. Instead, distributors can now charge something known as ‘trail commission’ which is the fee charged for only the period during which the investor is invested in a particular scheme.

    At the moment, distributors are paid up to 2% as upfront commissions by the fund houses as against the 1% recommended by the AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India). The set of regulations issued by the SEBI has been made to counter the prevailing malpractices in the mutual fund industry and to bring about transparency in the system. The Assets Under Management (AUM) of the mutual fund industry currently has exceeded Rs.25 lakh crore.

    21 September 2018

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